Friday, July 27, 2007

"I don't like people."

If you've spent any time with me at all, you've probably heard me say it: "I don't like people." It's not really true. I like people enough. I just don't like crowds. I'm sure it's probably a control thing...but few things make me more uncomfortable than being stuck in a crowd. Ride in a car while I'm driving and you'll find that I will do whatever it takes to get in front of everyone. I'll show up either extremely early or extremely late for a concert or other event, just to avoid having to mingle in a crowd. Sometimes, I will choose to not attend an event if it's a surefire bet that there will be a large crowd there. I haven't ever had a panic attack in a crowd, but I've been close a few times! On the rare occasion that my wife can actually convince me to go to places like WalMart or Home Depot, I often quote the scripture, "Yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." as I'm walking into the front doors. And it does feel that way to me. It's hell. But something that's just as uncomfortable for me is what I like to call "forced socialization." Let me explain: Some of the most dreaded five words in the English language, to me anyway, are:
"Let's break into small groups."
UGH! I absolutely hate that! No seriously...hate is not too strong of a word in this instance. If I'm at a conference or an event that calls for breaking into small groups, I will sneak out of the room. My attitude is that if I want to make friends, I'll do it on my own pace...when I choose to...and with whom I choose. I don't need to "pair up with five people you don't know" to learn whatever the teacher has to say. I am perfectly content to hide in my office at work and not talk to a single person face-to-face all day. In fact, I'd love to work from home so I don't really have to socialize at all. I love sites like myspace--they are about as far from really "socializing" as you can get. You make "friends" that you'll probably never meet. And if you decide you don't want to be "friends" anymore, you just delete them. (It's funny, they call these "social networking" sites. But there's really not anything social about it at all. It's about as impersonal as you can get--and I have to admit, there's a huge part of me that absolutely loves that!) So then I start to think: I don't like crowds. I don't like small groups. Hmmm. Maybe I don't like people. So...what's wrong with that? Well, other than the fact that I'm a music artist that relies on people to buy his product and come to his concerts, there's this verse in Scripture that has really convicted me lately.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
-John 13:35
The reverend Peter Scholtes put it this way in his famous worship hymn:
"They will know we are christians by our love."
I honestly don't have any idea why I am this way. But it's something I've done since I was a child. I didn't have many friends growing up and I don't remember ever having a friend come over to my house to play. I do remember taking my G.I. Joe into my room and playing for hours...alone...and being perfectly content with it.
Still, I am convicted. I know this is something I need to work on. It will be tough to teach this old dog new tricks, but I am willing to try. Just don't expect any miracles overnight. One step at a time. I'm not gonna go get all warm and fuzzy on ya just yet!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Shirtless Diet®

Ever notice how so many restaurants have the tables so high, that you feel like a kid eating at the grownup table? I think there's a method to their madness. I think they're doing that so your gut hides beneath the table. Outta sight...outta mind. So, I've come up with a new diet plan that should help me lose weight. It's called The Shirtless Diet®. Here's how it works: Every evening, just before dinner, I take my shirt off. I sit down, pasty white jelly roll jiggling there at the edge of the table. And our table isn't "restaurant high" so there's no hiding it. The very sight makes me not want to eat anything at all! And it works on other people too! Once I take off my shirt, my wife loses her appetite as well! We're on The Shirtless Diet® together! I'll have to give you an update to let you know how we're doing! How can I patent this, I wonder? :)

Friday, July 20, 2007


Carrie married the wrong man. But because she puts tradition before her own personal happiness, she's been with him for more than 15 years. She stays for the kids. If you asked her, she'd say she missed out on "true love."

Ryan had a demanding father. He spent most of his life trying to prove himself...moving up the corporate ladder. Now, at age 45, he realizes that he forgot to have fun along the way. He's not even sure if he's capable of it. He's missing joy.

Peter's life has been in turmoil since he was born. Abusive foster parents, pent up anger, an uncontrollable temper. He's never held a job for more than a year, been evicted from two different apartments and has never been able to maintain a healthy relationship. He's missing peace.

We are all jigsaw puzzles, I suppose, with a piece or two missing. How frustrating to at least have an idea of what the finished product would look like, if only you could find that missing piece.

I suppose this is where I'm supposed to get all spiritual and tell you that you can only find that missing piece through Christ. Well, sorta. I believe you can find those things through accepting Jesus as Savior, but I'm not so sure you'll complete the puzzle here on this planet. Maybe that wholeness doesn't come til we're walking barefoot on million-dollar streets. The Bible says there's no weeping there. No death. No pain. No sorrow. Maybe our missing piece is somewhere on the other side of those gates. Perhaps we'll have to go swimming for it in a crystal stream...or scale a jeweled wall to find it.

But oh, what'll find when we finally stick that last piece of the puzzle in there! What satisfaction!

What piece are you missing?

Monday, July 16, 2007

You--A Miracle Worker

One of my favorite stories in the bible takes place in Matthew, chapter 11. John the Baptist is in prison and he sends two messengers to ask Jesus an important question:
"Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?" --Matthew 11:3
When asked the question, in typical Jesus-fashion, the Lord doesn't say simply Yes or No. He responds by telling the messengers to report back to John. He tells them to report to John all the miracles they have witnessed during their time with the Savior.
"Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:" --Matthew 11:4
Here's what's amazing about this text. Yes, Jesus lists some powerful miracles...but look closely at the list. What do you see that perhaps sticks out a bit?
"The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed
and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor
have the gospel preached to them."
I'm amazed at this verse. Jesus lists the miracles that He's been peforming:
The blind see: Remember how Jesus performed this miracle with just some mud and spit?
The lame walk: Jesus performed this miracle with nothing more than a command. A few words and those who had never taken a step in their lives were leaping with joy!
Lepers are cleansed: Sometimes, Jesus demanded an act of faith before this cleansing happened. But imagine going from shunned from society for your illness--to completely whole, clean.
The deaf hear: I remember one story where Jesus stuck his fingers in a man's ears. Weird...but apparently effective.
And of course, the stories of the dead rising: Lazarus--who had been dead for days. The little girl whose family mocked Jesus when He said "She's just sleeping!" (My favorite is when Jesus walked into a town and saw a funeral procession. It was for the only son of a widow. She was heartbroken to have lost her son. The Bible says Jesus had compassion on her and touched the coffin. The dead man sat up in the coffin and began speaking! Incredible!)
But it's the last miracle that really blows my mind. Of all the things Jesus listed, why is this one here? "...and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Why was that listed with these miracles? Why did Jesus include this in the list of examples that proved He was the Christ?
Maybe it's because Jesus understands the message of poverty:
"You don't matter. You don't stand a chance.
You'll never amount to anything. Nobody cares. Give up."
And how the most powerful weapon against that message is the message of hope in Christ.
"You DO matter. You are valuable. You were made for a purpose.
God loves you. He created you. He cares about you."
When a person goes from "I don't matter" to "I'm important to God", the message of poverty is defeated. It's sight for the blind...cleansing for the leper...hearing for the for the dead. It is a miracle.
Now let me ask you this question: Which of these miracles can YOU perform today?
I'll even give you the answer: You can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone struggling in poverty today. There's one organization that is not only serving the poor by meeting their physical, social, environmental, emotional and educational needs...but their spiritual needs as well. Compassion International partners with churches in the poorest countries, bringing the Gospel to the poor. It's what Jesus did. It's a miracle you can perform today. Check out Compassion. Give. Sponsor a child. Be a miracle worker.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where Art Thou, O' Peace?

Why do you think we can't always feel the peace of God? Is it like a good steak? If you had it everyday, you wouldn't appreciate it as much? Is God's peace like a New York Strip, perfectly seasoned? Maybe I don't want steak for every meal...but it would be nice to know I could go grab one when I do crave it. Why is it that when I really need that peace, I can't seem to find it? I'm sure I've done something to put myself so far away from it. I'm sure it's like running away from home and then wondering why you feel so lonely. But it sure would be nice if God's peace could find me, without me having to search for it. Or is it the fact that I'm searching that makes it elusive? Perhaps I'm supposed to be still. Perhaps the peace only comes when I'm no longer searching for it. Maybe it's like the lost car keys. Maybe I'm supposed to retrace my steps...try to remember where I last had it. Maybe it's in my coat pocket. I could've seriously used a little of that peace today. Today, I'm struggling. Today, I find it hard to breathe. Today, I find it hard to want to. Today, I'm uneasy. Anxious. Today, I'm disappointed. Today, I'm discouraged. Today, I hurt. Today, I'm craving that steak. And it would be nice if I could find my car I could go get one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


In high school, I dated a girl who worked at the local Dairy Queen. Some nights, I'd pick her up after work, just for the opportunity to have 10 minutes in the car with her as I took her home. Okay, maybe sometimes it would become a 20 minute trip, but you get the idea. I really liked this girl. But I couldn't get past the smell. You know...that greasy, standing next to the fryer, serving cheeseburgers for 8 hours smell. Yech! Her clothes smelled like it. Her hair smelled like it. And then, after I'd drop her off at her house, my car smelled like it. My friends could tell when Belinda had been in the car, from the smell alone. My houseparents could tell when I had been with her. It was some serious "residue." Conversely, she probably didn't like my smell either. I grew up in a children's home. "The Home", as we called it, was actually a working ranch. 900 acres of land. 350 head of cattle. 8-10 horses...and a few pigs. Yeah, I smelled like a ranch. I smelled like cow poo and hay. I carried that smell with me into the house after a day of working on the ranch. My clothes wreaked of it. Residue. You see, no matter where you go, there's some residue. There are traces that show where you've been. That's the way it is with our sins. They rub off on us. They leave a stink behind. And not just where you've been, but where the people you hang out with have been. You're carrying their residue too. Sometimes you get so used to the smell of your own sin, that you can't even tell it's there anymore. So you think you can lie to people. "No, I didn't do that!" But someone will be able to tell. Someone will smell the stench of sin on you. It's a like a smoker who swears that he quit two weeks ago, but wreaks of the cigarette he just snuck around the back of the building to light up. He can't smell it on him. He's too used to the smell. But he wreaks of it. You can smell it. It's residue. When Moses spent time with God, he had some residue too. It wasn't necessarily smell, but it was in his appearance. Spending time with God left "spiritual residue." Exodus tells us that his face shone so brightly, that it frightened the Israelites. He had to wear a veil to cover it, just so people would stop freaking out. Man, I'd love to be so close to God that when people saw me, they could tell. Can you imagine having that kind of residue? In Acts, Peter and John were speaking at the Sanhedrin. The "spiritual leaders" marveled at the fact that these two uneducated men were preaching with such authority. They said they could tell that Peter and John had been with Jesus. Wouldn't it be nice if our words were residue, left over from our time with Christ? I'm not much of a theologian, but I believe that Jesus' blood is kinda like Spray n' Wash and fabric softener all in one. When you accept Jesus as Lord, you wash in the blood to get rid of the stain of your sins...and find your heart softened. And it leaves you with that "spring fresh" scent! Ha! Wouldn't it be nice if that's all the residue that people see? Wouldn't it be wonderful if people could look at you and see that you've "been with Jesus?" 2nd Corinthians tells us that when we are washed in the blood of Christ, we become "the fragrance of Christ." When God looks at us, He smells the fragrance of Christ, and not our sins. Now that's the ultimate, powerful, stain-resistant, odor-killing spiritual residue! I wonder where you are today. I wonder where you've been. I wonder what residue you take with you. Are you trying to hide from a past that keeps catching up with you? Are trying to cover the smell of where you've been with something else? Are you so used to the smell that you can't even tell anymore? Take on the spiritual Spray n' Wash and fabric softener. Take away the smell of your sin. We could all use some of that spiritual residue. May you spend time with Jesus today. And may others see it--or smell it--on you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Three Days Pay

Hi friends!

Check out this short, 30-second video from Compassion International. Really puts things into perspective.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Everybody's Doin' It!

My little baby boy, Morgan, is just past three months old now. This morning, as he and I were playing on his playmat in the living room, he let one rip. You know what I mean...he passed gas....he "has the vapors"..."broke wind"..."cut the cheese."

I chuckled a bit...and thought about how everyone giggles when he farts and how it just seems so cute coming out of his little body. But that got me to thinking: At what point do farts stop being cute...and start being something no one talks about? I mean...everyone farts. Everyone. Yes, your mother farts, your cute girlfriend farts, your dad farts all the time. Your brother farts the most. Your grandpa probably farts in his sleep. So...why does everyone pretend they don't? Why do people try to hide it when they do?

"He who smelt it...dealt it!"

When we're young, we play fart games. At least I did. At the Home where I grew up, my friends Doug Golibart and Bobby Kirby and I played the "Safety" game. If someone farted, they had to say "Safety" before another person said "Pokes." If they say "Pokes" first, they get to hit you...say, on the shoulder with their fist. There was one "free-fart zone"--the bathroom. You could fart all you want in there--no "safety" required.

That was all cool through high school...and I even took the game with me to college. Now, as an adult, no one talks about farts. I've heard stories of fiancees and newlyweds who will go way out of their way to make sure their partner never hears them fart...let alone smell it! Then, after a few years, couples tend to relax and they can fart around each other. My wife and I play the "safety" game at home now. But at way would she pass gas in front of me!'s no-holds barred. We even rate them. "That was a good one!" or "Oooooh...what did you eat?" etc. (She's gonna kill me for telling you that.)

"Silent But Deadly"

But go to a public place. Stand in line at the airport security check when someone slips one out...and see if that person is willing to say "That was me! I own that one! Sorry folks!" Or worst yet...on the plane, where there's no escape route! I sat next to someone in a movie once who I'm sure was responsible for the foul stench that was wafting through the air every ten minutes or so. Did he own up to it? Oh no! He didn't even ask me to pull his finger!

I wonder...what would it be like if you could see people's farts? What if, everytime you "blow the horn", a green fog came out of your rear? Even if it's "Silent But Deadly?" How would the world react to the green fog? Would we be so used to it that it would be just as much a part of everyday life as breathing, coughing or sneezing?

Spiritual Gas're probably wondering why I'm writing all this stuff about farts. What could possibly be the spiritual implication here? Well, I see farting kinda like sinning. Everybody's doin' it. Jesus could have just as easily said, "Let he who is without fart cast the first stone." Trust me, no stones would be flying in that case, either.

When we're young and naive, we make jokes about our sins. We flaunt them...heck maybe even grade them. But at some point, we notice our "nakedness" and we start trying to hide our sins. We don't want anyone to smell them. We don't want anyone to even know that we committed them. We'll go way out of our way to conceal them. Eventually, we'll expose our sins to those whom we trust the most. Our spouses are privvy to some of our sins...but still others are just too smelly to reveal to them!

I imagine that's why God allowed us to sin without it always being in public view. If every sin we committed created a "green fog", this would be one green, foggy world! But eventually, the smell does catch up to you. Eventually, someone's going to figure out where the stink is coming from. You can't escape the green fog. God sees every, sin. I guess the big difference is that we can choose not to sin. I'm not so sure that's the case with passing gas. Would we still choose to sin, if we had to walk around with the green fog trailing behind? Or would everyone get so used to the fog that we wouldn't even think twice about the sin?

What a different world this would be if we were all willing to own up to our sins publicly. Think about it. You're at the mall, when you suddenly hear:

"Lusting after that woman behind the counter there...that was me! Sorry everyone!"

Or a voice just a few cubicles down from you at work shouts:

"I just stole a stapler from the company!"

Or whatever it is. Regardless, the smell is already out there. We just aren't always sure where its coming from. But we all know one thing for sure. Everybody's doin' it.